Is it really Friday already? The Friday before Memorial Day weekend…seriously?!? The unofficial start to summer. Really?
While I try to wrap my mind around the speed at which this year is unfolding, let’s do a week round-up. Because I am sure you are all intrigued at what has been happening around here these past few days.
My week included many moments of wincing, especially when going down stairs and sitting. I was pretty close to installing a safety bar in the bathroom, you know the ones for the elderly or handicap or marathon finishers. I know I am not alone on this…I had a few good laughs over this topic this week.
I had a birthday. It was great. It fell on our first monthly potluck at work and happy birthday was sang and maybe even a bit of dancing was done. And the potluck…it was delicious. Next month? An ice cream social. I love this place!
I went to yoga. We did a million chaturangas. My arms are sore. In a good, that was a kick-butt workout, kinda way. And the stretching, oh the stretching felt wonderful.
American Idol came to an end…it was my guilty pleasure this winter/spring. I am currently looking for another guilty pleasure…Maybe Duets…but that Robin Thicke character kinda weirds me out. He sounds like his father, but every now and then he doesn’t and that throws me for a loop. And his hair? It is tall. And his pants? They are tight…Garth Brooks tight. But he can rock a blazer. But I like Jennifer Nettles.
In baseball news, the Indians swept the Tigers…kind of a big deal in this house! #windians.
In the kitchen, it was a slow week. I baked carrot cake cupcakes, roasted green beans (recipe soon), tested out a cocktail, and whipped up some pulled pork (my potluck contribution). And while I made baked mini shells with pork sugo last weekend, I finished off the left overs this week…So this recipe totally falls into this week’s round up.
When I started marathon training back in January…I instantly started thinking about carb loading in May. I kinda love pasta. And so when the time came, I was prepared – I did have 4 months to research. The great thing about this dish is that I was able to prepare the pork the day before and when the time came for dinner, I only had to boil the pasta, sprinkle with cheese, and toss in the oven. This is perfect, when you are feeding a small crowd, with who you would rather visit with than spend that time slaving over a hot stove. Or spend time with instead of taking photos of your food..thankfully I snapped a few as it was being dished out and eaten!
Baked Mini Shells w/ Pork Sugo
Adapted from Food and Wine
2-3lb Pork Butt, cut into cubes (about 1 inch)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Yellow Onion, finely diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
3-4 Medium Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 Cups Diced Tomatoes (14 ounce can)
1 + 1/2 to 2 Cups Dry Red Wine
4-6 Cups Chicken Stock/broth
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 + 1/2 lbs. Mini Shells ( I used whole wheat!)
2 Cups Parmesan Cheese, shredded (or a mix of Italian cheeses)
Pork can be made up to 1 to 2 days before and stored in airtight container in fridge.
Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium-hight heat. Season pork cubes with salt and pepper and toss into the dutch oven – keep pork in a single layer. Cook pork until golden browned on all sides, this should take about 12 to 15 minutes. You want the pork to be browned, because browned means flavor! Add garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until vegetables begin o brown and become tender (about 8-10 minutes). Stir in tomato paste and cook for about one minute.
Add wine and with a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan, releasing all the browned bits. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaf, and dried thyme. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by 1/2, stirring occasionally. Add stock, enough to completely cover pork. Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours, until pork is tender and can be shredded with a fork. If the liquid level drops, add stock as needed. Keep pork covered.
Once pork is tender, using a slotted spoon, transfer pork and vegetables to a food processor, discard the bay leaf. Pulse several times until pork is shredded. This can also be done with two forks, but is quicker and more uniform in a food processor. Transfer pork and vegetables back into the original pot and stir in oregano and crushed red pepper. At this point in time, you can store pork in fridge until ready to use. Otherwise, continue onto the next step.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes, drain well. (it will continue to cook in the oven.) Toss together pasta and shredded pork in a casserole pan (or dutch oven that can go from stove top to oven), cover with Parmesan cheese and place in preheated oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbly.
If you are making the pork sugo beforehand, reheat it on the stovetop before tossing it with the cooked pasta.